Two Movie Teachers You Wish You Had

Appreciate your favorite teachers with these model instructors.

This spring, remember the educators who changed your life and opened your mind. For Teacher Appreciate Day, we’re celebrating two of our favorite teachers, as well.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Paul Giamatti, and Dominic Sessa in The Holdovers

The Holdovers | Paul Hunham

In The Holdovers—directed by Alexander Payne and written by David Hemingson—Paul Giamatti plays Paul Hunham, a cranky classic teacher at Barton Academy who is forced to babysit the holdovers, students who are stuck at school during the holiday break. After many of them leave, Hunham is left with Mary Lamb (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), a cook who recently lost her son in Vietnam, and Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa), a troublemaking young student. The character of Hunham was based on the screenwriter’s uncle Earl, a brilliant, often sarcastic iconoclast, whom Hemingson describes to IndieWire as “hard-candy shell, chewy caramel center. The guy was tough on the outside but incredibly sweet and accessible on the inside.”

As the film’s main three characters form an impromptu family, Hunham’s curmudgeonly façade begins to fade away, revealing the teacher’s profound empathy and concern for the young Tully. In “The Holdovers and What it Means to Be a Great Teacher,” Saturday Evening Post writes that in the end “we see a genuine care for the teen that exemplifies Hunham’s turnaround.” On receiving a Golden Globe for his performance, Giamatti gave a shout-out to educators everywhere. Variety writes, “Giamatti told the crowd in his speech, ‘Teachers are good people. We’ve got to respect them. They do a good thing. It’s a tough job. So this is for teachers.’”

Watch The Holdovers on Apple TV or Amazon.

Official trailer for The Holdovers

Steve Coogan in Hamlet 2

Hamlet 2 | Dana Marschz

In Andrew Fleming’s Hamlet 2, Steve Coogan takes the idea of the inspirational to her hysterical extremes. A failed actor, Dana Marschz (Coogan) moves to Tucson, Arizona, to become a high school drama teacher. For At the Movies, “Coogan's character will surely ignite memories of quirky, even downright crazy teachers you may have encountered over the years.” Determined to capture the hearts and minds of his mostly apathetic students, Marschz stages an original musical spectacular with a time-traveling Hamlet and sexy Jesus. “He's channeled everything into teaching students his love of the craft,” Coogan tells MovieWeb. “What fuels a lot of the humor is that he's obviously not very good at it.” Indeed, as AV Club writes, “Hamlet 2 is nothing short of hilarious.”

Watch Hamlet 2 on Apple TV or Amazon.

Official trailer for Hamlet 2